At Wajam, we’re inspired by fellow Montreal startups who bring new innovation to the world. Every month, we host a Lunch & Learn where we invite guest entrepreneurs and thought leaders to come and share their experiences with our team.
This past week, we had the pleasure of hosting Frank & Oak founders Ethan Song and Hicham Ratnani. From their dramatic pivot from Modasuite, to their surprising growth, it was inspiring to see and hear from fellow entrepreneurs who have persevered and gained recognition worldwide.
The Wajam team with Ethan Song & Hicham Ratnani from Frank & Oak
A Startup Success Story
Frank & Oak is an online clothing shop for men who are looking for the extraordinary.
The award-winning men’s fashion online retail company pivoted from made-to-measure online retailer Modasuite into one of the most talked about brands on Twitter today.
Through it all, the two co-founders kept focused on what they wanted, building a global business in which they would be the best at what they do.
Startup Lesson #1 from Frank & Oak
When they came to the realization that made-to-measure retailing wasn’t going to get them to their career goals (building a $100+ million company), they took a hard look at their business and decided to completely redesign their business model. They gave themselves six week to launch their new site, and soon after, Time Magazine called.
Driven by data, their new model consists of curating stylish and affordable clothing and giving the best shopping experience for men.
Since their launch in February 2012, they’ve seen a meteoric rise in sales volume and packages shipped, and secured a $5-million series A round from Lightbank (the VC created by Groupon co-founders Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell), Berterlsmann Digital Media Investment, Rho Canada Ventures, and Real Ventures. They also received additional investments from Wajam CEO Martin-Luc Archambault, who was an early angel and board member, as well as other angels from Anges Quebec.
Startup Lessons From The Founders
Here are five memorable quotes from their presentation that resonated with our team.
1. “You have to hustle, and not be afraid of getting your hands dirty.” They had no experience with clothing fabrication when they started their venture, but learned so much by traveling and doing their homework.
Ethan in the early days of Modasuite visiting partners in China
2. “There are not that many roads, you just have to power through them”. Often times, when you tackle a problem, the solution is to focus on the issue with all your energy. Yes, get help when you need to, but also have the tenacity to see things through.
3. “Some people want to be perfect, but nothing ever is.” You will lose money and time trying to be perfect, and your window of opportunity will shrink. Just ship as quickly as possible and then iterate.
4. “If you don’t ship, you lose.” Hicham was referring to clothing packages shipped out to customers, but the same rule applies to software production. By continuously shipping and then iterating, you can more quickly measure the success of your work.
5. “Get things done, today.” If you push something to tomorrow, tomorrow’s bucket will grow bigger. Your backlog list will grow longer. And if you slack off, your whole company slacks off. So set the example for your teammates. Learn to discipline yourself into getting as many things done as possible, TODAY.
Enjoy a better way to shop for men’s clothing. Sign up for Frank & Oak today!
Ethan and Hicham after securing the Series A financing